September 30, 2015 / 9:35 PM / 2 years ago

DuPont CEO Kullman: 'Crucial' to engage with all stakeholders

Ellen Kullman, Chair of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of DuPont attends a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

BOSTON (Reuters) - DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman said it is critical to keep engaging with all stakeholders in the company, signaling an open door policy less than five months after fending off one of the year’s toughest shareholder challenges.

“Isolation ... is not an option,” Kullman said at the Council of Institutional Investors’ fall meeting in Boston on Wednesday.

In May, billionaire hedge fund manager Nelson Peltz, who runs the $11 billion-asset Trian Management, narrowly lost his bid to win four DuPont board seats. While Kullman did not mention Peltz by name, her remarks showed DuPont remained open to shareholder input despite that aggressive battle.

Kullman kept the hedge fund mogul at bay through strong relations with big name institutional investors that sided with the company, including BlackRock Inc and Vanguard Group, filings in August showed.

“We must thoughtfully engage with all stakeholders, investors, regulators, employees and we need to see the world through their eyes,” she said. “We need to truly understand the expectations of our stakeholders and then we need to meet them, consistently over time.”

“We encourage our board members to pierce through our operations,” she said, noting that she likes demanding questions.

DuPont’s stock price “is a concern,” Kullman said.

Since May 12, the day before the vote on Peltz’s bid was decided, DuPont shares have fallen 32 percent. They closed at $48.20 on Wednesday.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Ross Kerber; Editing by Richard Chang

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